Last Minute Gift Ideas That Cost Next to Nothing!

Betty Lochner Blog post

As we enter into the last minute gifts giving rush, are you are running out of meaningful gift ideas, and/or are on on a tight budget?  

If you are like me, when you reflect on your most favorite gifts you’ve ever recieved they are usually the ones that have cost little or no money.

Here are some of my favorite last minute gift ideas that cost you nothing (or almost nothing) but a little bit of your time and some creativity.

Give a Coupon or a Coupon Book

Give the gift of your time and service. Think about something they don’t like to do such as laundry, picking up dog poop, running errands. Or something they do like to do such as a monthly coffee date, or glass of wine together. You can make a free coupons in a Word doc, Canva, or download a template online.

Gift of the Month

Similar to the coupon idea, use your specialty (cookies, running errands, casseroles, soup, bread, salsa, babysitting, document editing, etc) and give a certificate for a Gift of the Month, that says something like, Congratulations!  You are a member of the Cookie of the Month Club.  Once a month for the next 12 months you will recieve 2 dozen cookies, delivered to your doorstep.

Write a Heartfelt Card or Letter

Share how they have impacted your life and your gratitude for what they’ve done for you or how they’ve influenced you. I have a friend who got a letter from her teenage grandson, who didn’t manage his money well enough to buy gifts one year.  He wrote to her about how she had always been in his life and shown up — at this games, important events – and how glad he was she was his grandma. She told me it was the best gift she has ever gotten and it still tugs at her heart to think about it. 

Create a Personalized Music Playlist

Make a list of retro songs from when they were young, a power list for commuting, or a workout playlist. They will think of you everytime they play it. 

Collect Your Favorite Recipes  

Print out and staple together your (or their) favorite recipes and include with something you have baked for them.  

Give a Bundle of  Letters or Inspirational Thoughts

Write a few cards, letters or inspirational quotes and label them things like, Read this when you are sad, when you are missing me, when you need inspiration, you feel homesick, etc. Seal each letter and tie the bundle up with a ribbon.

Create a Top 10 List

Make a list (David Letterman style) that starts with #10 and works down to #1 of  the top things you appreciate about them. Have fun with it and simply share are what you love about them. Add their favorite treat or small item. 

Pass on Something They Love

Give them something you own that you know they would love to have and will enjoy as much as you do. I had a friend who collected beautiful candle holders that I always admired. One year she gave me one. It was my favorite gift that year. 

My mom gave me our old Navity set that I played with as a child the year we had our first child with a note that read I hope your little one loves playing with this as much as you did. I keep the note with the Nativity set and read it each year. 

A few ideas of items you could pass on include:

  • A poster, photo, dish,  knicknack, collectable, journal or book you own that you know they would love. 
  • A picture of the two of you together (always a hit). 

Pro Tip

Take some time to think about the personality of the person and tailor a creative, no to low cost last minute gift personalized from you. Don’t overthink it. Sometimes the simplest gifts are the most genuine and heartfelt.  

Give with gratitude and  love and you can’t go wrong. 

Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach, and expert in workplace communications. She offers several online courses to help individuals and teams communicate better. She is the author of two books on communication, and a newly published journal, Intentional Gratitude.

Sign up here for and excerpt from her journal 7 Days of Gratitude.

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